LAS VEGAS – Just as he did on the ice all season long, Carey Price stole the show at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Entering the evening with the possibility of walking away with one-quarter of the league’s 16 annual end-of-season awards, Price opened and closed the show with acceptance speeches – with one more spliced in the middle.
Kicking things off by capturing the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player as voted on by members of the NHLPA, the impenetrable netminder became just the third goalie to ever earn the honor. While it was no surprise to anyone who followed the Canadiens’ season to see Price recognized as the best player in the league following his 44-win campaign, the Anahim Lake, BC native was particularly touched that the MVP tag was given to him by his peers.
“I’m very humbled. It’s something I’ll never forget. Especially coming from the players, no offense to anybody else,” joked Price to the throng of PHWA members whose votes helped make him the 2015 Hart Trophy recipient. “But I’m very humbled by that because I compete against these guys. I go to war against them. It’s a special moment.”
|Price with his hardware. |
After having already locked down Jennings Trophy honors – along with Corey Crawford – long before Wednesday’s big event, there wasn’t much suspense when it came time for the evening’s other goaltending hardware. Leading the league in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933) in 2014-15, in addition to setting a new franchise record for wins, Price was the clear favorite for the Vezina Trophy this season. In a market steeped in rich goaltending talent, the 27-year-old becomes the 13th netminder to win the award in franchise history, joining the likes of Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, and Jacques Plante.
From backing up Jaroslav Halak in the 2010 playoffs to dominating the league five years later, Price admits the climb to the top of the podium wasn’t an easy one. Reflecting on his eight-year NHL journey to date, the fifth-overall pick from the 2005 NHL Entry Draft confesses that he wouldn’t trade any of the experiences that have helped shaped him as a player and person since arriving in Montreal.
“I have to thank the organization for not giving up on me,” shared Price, who was the unanimous selection for the Vezina, as voted on by the league’s general managers. “I was a really young adult when I got here. I had a learning curve to go through, but they saw that I had the personality to get through it. The fans stuck with me, too. We had trying times together, but the times we’ve had together have been unbelievable.
“There are always going to be difficult times and it’s how you react that really defines your character,” he added. “I’ve been fortunate to have the right group people to show me the right way. My wife [Angela] has been a foundation for me, and so have my parents. Having my dad as a former player, he understands what it’s like to be in those kinds of situations. Having them to lean on really helped.”
Fittingly, Price capped his historic season by adding his name to another exclusive list at the NHL Awards. The seventh goaltender to win the Hart Trophy in NHL history, he also became just the fourth to ever win the Vezina and Hart in the same season, following in the footsteps of Plante (1961-62), Dominik Hasek (1996-97, 1997-98), and Jose Theodore (2001-02).
Even after owning the night with his collection of impressive awards, Price couldn’t help but think of the next one he’d like to add to his mantle.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I don’t really know what to say. It’s been an amazing experience. This whole season has been amazing,” he said. “But there’s still one more I want to get.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Price's acceptance speeches
NHL Red Carpet with Price and Subban